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That’s a wrap, everyone! It was certainly a super night for Clinton. It was semi-super for Trump. If you want to relive the Super Tuesday results chronologically, click here to start at the beginning of our live blog and scroll up.
We’ll have a lot more to say on what the Super Tuesday results mean for Cruz, Rubio, Kasich and Sanders for you to chew over with your morning croissant. In the meantime, though, here’s where things stand as we shut the lights off on this live blog:
|REPUBLICAN RACES||DEMOCRATIC RACES|
Responding to Ben’s “looking ahead” comments, a couple of things jumped out at me. He mentioned the economy, and this seems like something that’s been lost because of the recent — and important — discussions about race and immigration. I wrote after Iowa that a possible split for Democrats was between the winners and losers of the Obama years. This isn’t all that surprising for the incumbent party during a soft economic recovery. But it would certainly be interesting if this continues to distinguish Trump voters from Republicans who go for Rubio or Cruz.
So that’s really important for what the results of each contest mean. As someone who studies election interpretation for a living, I love it. But I mentioned at the beginning of this evening’s discussion, the interpretation stage usually ends now, as one candidate pulls ahead in delegates and voter support. I think we can now say that for Republicans, that still hasn’t decisively happened, even though Trump had a good night. The interpretations have already begun — we can no longer say Rubio hasn’t won anything. Cruz has beaten Trump three times. At some point, the time for interpretation will be over and the result will just be the result. Right?
Since we cover polls so much here and rely on them for our forecasts, we occasionally check in with the people who produce the polls released to the public — most recently, just after the Iowa caucuses. Tonight, we asked a handful of pollsters to react to the results. Lots of polls were in line with today’s results, but there were also possible polling misses in Massachusetts — understating Sanders’s support — and in Oklahoma, where polls overstated Trump’s chances. We heard back from four pollsters, who said polls mostly had a good night and that Clinton-Trump remains the most likely general-election matchup.
Oklahoma was a “big miss in the late polling,” said Christopher B. Budzisz, poll director at Loras College, in Dubuque, Iowa.
Matthew Towery of Opinion Savvy noted that Oklahoma has a closed primary, which he said seems to be the main reason for the poll-results differential. “I assume that pollsters failed to screen adequately in Oklahoma,” he said, “which would account for the apparent inflation of Trump’s numbers via independents.”
As for Massachusetts, said Spencer H. Kimball, adviser to the Emerson College Polling Society, it “looked like Bernie was able to get out the younger vote like he did in the earlier states.”
I asked the pollsters to estimate the probabilities that Trump and Clinton would win their respective parties’ nominations. On Trump, they ranged from 60 percent (Budzisz) to 90 percent (Kimball).
“He’s Teflon,” said Chris Kane, co-president of the Emerson College Polling Society. “It’s hard to see what might derail him.”
And no one gave Clinton less than a 90 percent chance of winning the Democratic nomination. Kimball thinks it’s inevitable: He said there’s a 100 percent chance Clinton will be the nominee.
Here are my back-of-the-envelope delegate projections: Based on current vote counts and each state and district’s allocation rules, Trump is on track to end up with about 262 delegates, Cruz is on track to win about 215, and Rubio is on track to win about 93. That’s an even more awful result for Rubio than I thought, and it’s a lot worse for Rubio than The New York Times’s Upshot model is currently projecting. After tonight, Rubio could be more than 100 delegates behind Cruz and more than 200 delegates behind Trump.
With the last few results still trickling in, what can tonight teach us about upcoming contests? This weekend, Republicans will vote in Louisiana, Maine and Kentucky (and also Puerto Rico), while Democrats will vote in Louisiana, Maine and Nebraska.
Economically, Louisiana and Kentucky look a lot like the poorer Southern states that voted today, all of which were comfortable wins for Trump and Clinton. Maine is a Northeastern state but looks quite different economically from the rest of New England: Its population is poorer, less educated and significantly older than its neighbors. Still, its demographics probably line up well for Sanders.
Nebraska, meanwhile, has one of the strongest economies in the country; its unemployment rate in December was just 3 percent, meaning pretty much anyone who wants a job can get one. Of the states that have voted so far, it probably most resembles Iowa economically.
Looking ahead to next week, we get primaries or caucuses in Idaho (another rural state with a relatively low unemployment rate), Mississippi (another poor Southern state with a large black population) and Hawaii (something of an outlier economically and in most other ways). We also get primaries in Michigan, which was hit harder by the recession than nearly any other state. Michigan will be the first glimpse we get of how the industrial Midwest responds to the candidates, which makes it especially worth watching.
UPDATE (March 2, 12:30 a.m.): A reader writes in (thanks, Jason!) to note that this post originally left out one state: Kansas, which also caucuses Saturday. (Was this omission due to the fact I’m a Mizzou fan? You be the judge.) Kansas is in many ways pretty representative of the U.S. economy as a whole: The state’s unemployment rate, at 4 percent, is better than the national mark of 4.9 percent, but in terms of income, poverty and education, Kansas is right around the national average. It’s more rural than the U.S. as a whole, and more of its economy comes from agriculture, but it also has a robust healthcare sector. In terms of states that have voted so far, it’s probably most similar to Oklahoma economically, with the (very large) caveat that it doesn’t have much of an energy industry.
Super Tuesday, as I noted earlier, began as a coordinated Southern primary. We’ve seen Trump do well in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Nate pointed out last week that this is where Trump is strong — the South and Northeast. It’s also where two of the race’s strongest contenders, Cruz and Trump, are from. (And Rubio, too, sort of. Florida is weird in the geography game.)
As I look at this list of contenders and of states that have held contests so far, one thing that strikes me is that this suddenly no longer looks like the party of Nixon, Goldwater and Reagan — the party of the West. California is pretty much a lost cause for Republicans. And yet the interior west and several of the Plains states — the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Kansas — are incredibly strong for Republican presidential candidates. Some of those states vote fairly late, but it seems possible now that the contest could go on that long (or longer). With prominent Nebraska Republican Ben Sasse leading the #NeverTrump movement, I’ll be curious to see what happens as these states head to the polls.
Back in January, Trump marveled at all his free media time: “I get so much, they call it free. … They do 15 minutes on Trump and then they say, ‘Now we will be back after commercial break with something else on Trump’ … because I get good ratings.” The data back him up: He consistently has gotten the vast majority of media coverage, not just a plurality, in a race that had a dozen candidates at the time of his comment. His stump speech tonight, followed by a news conference and carried live on several networks, was the latest evidence that Trump has mastered getting free media time even as his rivals struggle to raise money for paid time.
|REPUBLICAN RACES||DEMOCRATIC RACES|
The betting markets are pretty consistent with what we’ve been saying about the Republican race: Rubio’s chance of becoming the nominee has fallen to 9 percent after returns started coming in, according to Predictwise. Cruz has risen to 5 percent, and Trump remains the heavy favorite, at 83 percent.
As Nate noted, the timing of Rubio’s first state victory, in Minnesota, was poor, coming late in the night after Trump and Cruz each won multiple states. On the other hand, Trump’s timing of his speech-press conference was terrific. He bragged that even where he hasn’t won, he’s finished second. But Trump is coming in third in Minnesota, trailing Cruz, who is in second, by 7 percentage points. Then again, Minnesota was one of Rubio’s best states and the only one in which he won a state poll conducted in 2016 and compiled by HuffPost Pollster.
The Associated Press has called the Minnesota Republican caucuses for Rubio, giving him his first win of the campaign. According to the Minnesota Republican Party, Rubio has 36 percent of the vote to Cruz’s 29 percent and Trump’s 22 percent, with 70 percent of precincts reporting.
In theory, the win would partially change the media narrative about Rubio’s evening, particularly given that Cruz had emphasized how he was the only non-Trump candidate to have won a state so far. But the call came late in the evening after the conventional wisdom had already jelled around it being a poor night for Rubio. Some of this is silly, as is the sarcastic response that political Twitter has taken toward Rubio lately. Ultimately, however, Rubio won’t shut up his doubters unless he wins his home state of Florida, a winner-take-all state that votes on March 15. Rubio currently trails Trump in polls there.
Harry, my first reaction to that comment was that the difference in context is telling. In 1992, you had an incumbent who had initially looked pretty strong. It’s not surprising that this would draw lots of potentially factional Democratic candidates.
In the last two open-seat presidential primaries, which were pretty competitive (and I think both parties thought they would be), the parties were much more organized. Both parties’ primaries in 2000 almost had no contests at all, and 2008 had an exciting contest between two mainstream, strong candidates on the Democratic side.
For a party to face an open contest, with the other party the incumbent party — so basically the best possible opportunity — and be so fractured is kind of a different beast.
This was interesting, from commenter Andy Hicken:
The last time 4 candidates from one party all won a state on the same night: March 3, 1992. Paul Tsongas won Maryland, Utah, and Washington, Tom Harkin won Idaho and Minnesota, Jerry Brown won Colorado, and Bill Clinton won Georgia.
It looks like it’ll only be three GOP winners tonight, unless Kasich can overcome Trump in Vermont. Still, it speaks to this point: I don’t know why folks are walking away from tonight with the idea that Trump is somehow dominant. He’s won only 37 percent of the vote, pooling across states. That means he’s ahead but far from being a lock of any sort.
The New York Times’ Upshot tool, which projects each candidate’s Super Tuesday delegate tally, may be underestimating Cruz’s eventual delegate margin over Rubio. Right now, it forecasts that Cruz will win about 50 to 60 more delegates than Rubio. I think that may be low-balling the magnitude of Rubio’s challenge after this evening.
Think about Texas for a second. If Cruz is winning most congressional districts and Rubio falls short of the state’s 20 percent threshold, Cruz will likely win about 90 more delegates than Rubio in Texas alone, thanks to its district allocation rules. But then, consider that Cruz is also out-polling Rubio for second place in a vast majority of other congressional districts in the South. That means Trump will be winning two delegates from most Southern districts, while Cruz will be winning one, and Rubio will be winning zero.
Altogether, that could push Cruz’s differential over Rubio well above 100 delegates, perhaps close to 125. And Rubio’s strong performances in Minnesota and Virginia may not be enough to offset his failure to hit thresholds in states like Texas, Tennessee and Alabama, if current vote returns hold. If Rubio is that far behind Cruz in the count, it would bode extremely poorly for his chances of maintaining his status as the leading alternative to Trump.
“The only way to beat Donald Trump is to stand together united,” Cruz said tonight. But what if the only way to beat Trump was to make the No. 2 or No. 3 candidate a Hunger Games-style tribute? A piece by The Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri included a graphic that went viral … a GOP version of ethical game theory puzzle “the prisoners’ dilemma.” It’s much more plausible to me that if neither Cruz nor Rubio drops out (and neither seem primed to), then Trump has a clear path to the nomination.
A follow-up to Carl’s post below about Jim Gilmore’s “victory”:
Heading into tonight, according to FiveThirtyEight’s delegate interactive, Trump needed to hit a cumulative total of 297 delegates (including the 82 delegates he had already won in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada) to stay “on track” for the 1,237 required to clinch the nomination, while Cruz needed 384 and Rubio needed 242. Right now, Trump looks as if he’ll win somewhere between 225 and 300 delegates, easily keeping him “on pace.”
But it will be a close call whether Cruz or Rubio reaches a higher share of his delegate target. Thanks to Texas and Oklahoma, plus strong second-place finishes in many Southern congressional districts, Cruz looks likely to win as many as 100 or more delegates than Rubio. The bar for Rubio was always lower for the “SEC Primary,” but a delegate gap that wide could cause Cruz to knock Rubio out of second place on our leaderboard. It may take days to determine the final counts because in many cases, results will need to be broken down by congressional districts.
NBC News just called the Colorado Democratic caucuses for Sanders, giving him his third win of the evening, along with Vermont and Oklahoma. Sanders will also probably win the Minnesota caucus later on tonight. Still, it appears that he’ll narrowly lose in Massachusetts, a state that was something of a “must-win” for him based on our demographic targets. As I wrote earlier tonight, however, the big problem for Sanders is the huge margins that Clinton is racking up in the non-Oklahoma Southern states. Since the Democrats’ delegate allocation is highly proportional, that’s a deficit he’ll have to make up later on.
The biggest news in Oklahoma tonight might not be Cruz’s victory, or Sanders’s, but rather the indictment of Aubrey K. McClendon on antitrust charges. McClendon may not be a household name nationally, but he’s a genuine celebrity in Oklahoma, where he founded natural gas giant Chesapeake Energy Corp. and built it into one of the biggest oil and gas producers in the U.S. before being pushed out in 2013 amid a shareholder revolt. In an industry that has largely left its wildcatter days behind, McClendon was one of the last truly giant personalities — he was charismatic, brilliant and reckless. After losing a fortune to a margin call in 2008, he told me that it was a “kick in the shins” but that he was more bothered by his Oklahoma Sooners losing to Colt McCoy’s Texas Longhorns. It was braggadocio, but I half-believed it.
Micah, it’s true that Clinton overwhelmingly won the black vote in Super Tuesday states where she beat Sanders, including Georgia. Pragmatism about black political interests and how the game is played is likely the primary factor, since Sanders has also spoken to issues of core interest to black voters.
But a candidate speaking to the issues that a demographic cares about isn’t enough, no matter your race, and particularly so for black voters. Many black voters could support Sanders’s positions, but if they don’t think he knows how to wrangle Congress, there’s a risk in voting for him. I can’t help but think of President Lyndon B. Johnson wrangling an ambivalent Congress to pass civil rights legislation. He was known for his ability to work inside the political system, which may be tactically more important for black voters than white voters.
I’ve seen some self-described white Sanders voters express anger on social media, saying that black people are voting against their interests. But one of the roles the president plays is interacting with Congress and pushing (or aiming to block) the passage of legislation. And black and white voters have very different experiences with government when it comes to supporting legislation. This University of Chicago study shows how, all other factors aside, black support for legislation means it’s less likely to be passed.If white voters support a bill, it’s much more likely to be passed and adopted. But if black voters support legislation, it’s actually less likely to pass. That argues that black voters may have a tactical interest in an establishment candidate they think can work behind the scenes in their interest, and there’s a perception that Clinton may be better at insider politics. That also tracks with the broader support on the Democratic side for an experienced candidate, versus on the GOP side for an anti-establishment candidate.
Farai, so after tonight’s results, it’s probably safe to say black voters just aren’t buying what Sanders is selling. Why? Are there a lot of causes? One big one?
|PERCENTAGE OF VOTERS||CLINTON||SANDERS|
How did Jim Gilmore, the former Virginia governor who perpetually polled at 0 percent in national polls before withdrawing from the race three weeks ago, win 47 percent of the Republican primary vote in Chelsea, Massachusetts? I have no idea, but the Boston Globe results page shows Gilmore got 366 votes in Chelsea — or 42 percent of his total in the state. The Atlantic and the Guardian have reported this stunning result. Occam’s razor suggests that this could be a typo or other error — it would mean Gilmore got more than 10 times as many votes in Chelsea (est. pop. 37,000) as he got in the rest of Suffolk County (est. pop. 767,000).
There have been lots of attempts to place Trump in some kind of historical context — around Labor Day, I theorized that this was a function of his rogue, insurgent candidacy and our need to place him in some sort of context. Now that he seems to be winning, historically minded political scientists have compared him with a few presidential candidates who just couldn’t unite their parties: George McGovern, Barry Goldwater and William Jennings Bryan (in 1896). But each of these candidates, in different ways, represented a movement, a world view, and an ideological faction within their parties.
Trump’s candidacy is in some sense a test of that — and the emergence of a faction unified by race and immigration issues is still a live possibility. But Cruz’s speech tonight, which attempted to cast Trump as a liberal who would expand Obamacare, support Planned Parenthood and otherwise be indistinguishable from a Democrat, speaks to something else. It may well be the case that Trump will be nominated and subsequently won’t be able to unify the party around his candidacy. But despite Trump’s insistence that his campaign has been a movement, the ideological meaning of his candidacy remains murkier and less defined than that of factional candidates of the past.
Sanders is not having a good night. Last week, we published demographic targets in each state. These were not predictions; instead, they were estimates, based on the racial composition of each state and other demographics, of how well a candidate would have to do to get half of pledged delegates nationwide.
|Alabama||Clinton +59||Clinton +30||Clinton +29|
|Arkansas||Clinton +41||Clinton +15||Clinton +26|
|Colorado||Sanders +6||Sanders +11||Clinton +5|
|Georgia||Clinton +43||Clinton +27||Clinton +16|
|Massachusetts||Clinton +3||Sanders +11||Clinton +14|
|Minnesota||Sanders +18||Sanders +21||Clinton +3|
|Oklahoma||Sanders +11||Sanders +4||Sanders +7|
|Tennessee||Clinton +35||Sanders +2||Clinton +37|
|Texas||Clinton +37||Clinton +13||Clinton +24|
|Vermont||Sanders +72||Sanders +83||Clinton +11|
|Virginia||Clinton +29||Clinton +9||Clinton +20|
|Average||Clinton +13||Sanders +3||Clinton +16|
Clinton is running ahead of her benchmarks by an average of 16 percentage points tonight, which is equivalent to her holding a 16-point lead over Sanders in national polls. Sanders won a few of his “must-win” states tonight, but not others, and the huge deficits he racked up to Clinton in Southern states will make it hard for him to make up his deficit later on.
Here’s a bad sign for Rubio’s bid to hit the 20 percent delegate threshold in Texas: In the handful of counties I’ve checked, he’s doing WORSE with election day voters than early voters. Most votes counted so far are early ballots, and he’s at just 18 percent. This would be a heartbreaking blow to Rubio’s delegate count.
Fox News called Massachusetts for Clinton. If that is correct, it’s a symbolic blow to Sanders. As I’ve mentioned over and over again, Clinton is running up huge delegate margins in the South. Sanders was hoping to win a few states despite that. And while he is likely to win four states (Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma and Vermont), those won’t come anywhere near helping him cut into Clinton’s large delegate lead.
Earlier today, I broke the Super Tuesday states into three categories based on their economic characteristics. So far, those groupings seem to be holding up reasonably well in the actual voting, at least on the Republican side.
With the Associated Press calling Arkansas for Trump, it now looks like Trump will win all four of the states I labeled “Southern strugglers” (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee), in most cases by large margins. Cruz has won both of the “energy boomers” that have reported so far (Texas and Oklahoma), with Alaska results still outstanding. The third group, wealthier states I labeled “educated elites,” are a bit more mixed: Trump won Massachusetts overwhelmingly and Virginia narrowly. In Vermont, he’s battling with Kasich (!), and he looks likely to lose Minnesota to either Rubio or Cruz.
The Democratic race isn’t aligning as neatly with my economic groupings. As I noted earlier, Clinton won all the Southern states, but she lost Oklahoma despite winning Texas. The candidates have split the “educated elite” states so far, with Massachusetts, Minnesota and Colorado still outstanding.